New York Times easyJet Piece Gathers No (Kate) Moss

From our Late to the Party Pooper desk

Yesterday’s New York Times Business section featured this Nicola Clark profile of easyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall.

EasyJet Chief Leads Airline Through Turnaround

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LONDON — Early in a May conference call with journalists to discuss easyJet’s first-half results, Carolyn McCall, the low-cost airline’s chief executive, seemed puzzled to find herself being grilled about toilets.

Was it the case, several reporters were keen to know, that a planned shift of easyJet’s lavatories toward the tail section would make the ceilings too low for some male passengers to, you know, stand up?

“We don’t believe customers will notice it,” Ms. McCall said of the change in easyJet’s fleet of Airbus A320s, which had just been announced that morning as a way to make room for a row of passenger seats. “We’re not going to do something that reduces customer satisfaction.”

Interestingly, the Times piece never mentions the recent high-profile case of customer dissatisfaction with easyJet.

Via The Independent:

‘Disruptive’ Kate Moss ‘called pilot a basic b*tch’ while being escorted off easyJet plane by police

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Supermodel Kate Moss reportedly called the pilot of an easyJet flight a “basic b*tch” as she was escorted off a plane by police this weekend for apparently being “disruptive”.

A passenger on board the flight told MailOnline they heard Moss making the comment as she was being escorted by police.

The passenger said Moss had not behaved aggressively towards any one on board and that the incident, in which Moss had been labelled “disruptive”, had instead been “funny”. They also claimed the cabin crew had acted out of proportion to the situation.

There are, of course, other perspectives on the supermodel’s behavior, but The Daily Beast’s Teo Bugbee did call Moss the least basic bitch.

Regardless, the Times didn’t call her anything in its easyJet piece.

Huh.

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That’s Just So Mean! (Transjenner Edition)

Well the hardworking staff was cleaning up some of the piles of reading material scattered about the Global Worldwide Headquarters when we came across this recent piece by The Weekly Standard’s Matt Labash.

Transjennered America

Hero worship in our time.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been ignoring Bruce Jenner. As a child of the ’70s, I ignored him in the cereal aisle, where his Olympic-champion mug couldn’t entice me to pick his terminally bland Wheaties over more healthful Sugar Smacks. I ignored him in the ’80s, during his star-turn in Can’t Stop the Music, a disco-tinged Village People biopic that saw him nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for worst actor. In the ’90s, I don’t recall Jenner at all, as I was rather busy ignoring him.

By the mid-2000s, however, Jen-ner had become much more difficult to ignore. He’d plighted his troth to the Kardashian clan, America’s First Family of publicity tapeworms, who are as long on fame’n’money as they are short on talent, unless you consider leaked sex tapes and Instagram butt-selfies a talent.

And etc. Pretty much Standard-issue Labash. But it was the illustration (by Jason Seiler) that struck us as really, er, below the belt.

 

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C’mon – was that necessary? Vanity Fair might have gone overboard with the photoshopping of its Caitlyn Jenner cover shot, but this just feels . . . gratuitous.

The hardworking staff has studiously avoided passing judgement on the highly choreographed rollout of the new – or real – Jenner, not to mention the overcaffeinated reaction to it. But we couldn’t pass this one over in silence.

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Why Are Mark Halperin and Katie Couric Cavorting with the Romneys?

As the hardworking staff previously noted, Yahoo! News anchor Katie Couric was a (paid?) speaker at this weekend’s Mittapalooza for myriad GOP presidential hopefuls looking for some love – but mostly money – from Mitt Romney’s deep-pocketed friends.

But it turns out Couric isn’t the only newslike personality who compromised journalistic standards this weekend.

Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin also joined Romneyrama. (Tip o’ the pixel to splendid reader Steve Stein).

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Interestingly, the journo-Mittdustrial complex has drawn little mainstream media attention. The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser made no mention of it in his Saturday front-page piece, nor did New York Times reporter Ashley Parker in her report yesterday.

(To be sure graf goes here.)

To be sure, Mediaite did downward-dog Halperin’s pilates play, and Politico Playbook noted an awkward moment for Couric.

QUOTE DU JOUR — MITT ROMNEY to KATIE COURIC at Romney’s E2 Summit in Deer Valley, Utah, re N.Y. Times hit on Rubio finances: “[M]y goodness gracious, if we’re gonna talk about spending from The New York Times, didn’t they buy the Boston Globe for, like, a billion three and then sell it a number of years later for $80 million?” (Actually $1.1 billion and $70 million)

Still, is that it?

Maybe there’ll be something more today.

We’ll keep you posted.

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WSJ Trundles Out to Brimfield Fair

Friday’s Wall Street Journal A-Hed was a total flea market maker.

Giant Flea Market Means Big Haul for Porters

Able-bodied entrepreneurs bring in bucks carting collectibles; moving a carousel horse

BRIMFIELD, Mass.—Three times a year, traffic on U.S. Route 20, the main street of this sleepy New England hamlet, resembles rush hour in Los Angeles or New York. Motels switch on “no vacancy” signs as people from around the world come to shop at the Brimfield Outdoor Antiques & Collectibles show, one of America’s largest flea markets. But how do you get a carousel horse across a crowded field to your car a half-mile away?

HC-GT687_Porter_G_20150611172050Order a porter.

The porter industry has grown up haphazardly beside the Brimfield show, which happens every May, July, and September. Typically, guys with “porter” scrawled in permanent marker across their white T-shirts wander the show offering to carry finds for a fee. But a new generation of schleppers is getting organized.

To wit:

“We’re selling a branded service, like Uber,” said 26-year-old Kyle Quinn, CFO and COO of Speedy Porters, that operates at Brimfield. The brand has a lot to do with its shirts: neon orange, with “Speedy Porters” and a phone number screen-printed on the back. CEO Evan Genereux, 25, has been ferrying things around the loosely organized chaos of the show since he was 10 years old.

But oddly, despite the Uber comparison, there’s not an app for that. Walkie-talkies are more the order of the day for the porter patrol.

Read the whole piece. It’s a hoot.

(Next Brimfield show: July 14-19.The hardtiquing staff will not be there.)

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Why Is Katie Couric Consorting with Mitt Romney?

This weekend former Massachusetts governor and relentless presidential candidate Mitt Romney (R-Do You Like Me Now?) is hosting his E2 Summit at an upscale ski resort in Utah, where at least six GOP presidential candidates will show up presumably to get tips on how not to run.

Call the roll:

The Republican hopefuls scheduled to attend are Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and businesswoman Carly Fiorina.

But there are several non-politicians also scheduled to appear at Mittapalooza. From Politico’s Morning Score:

Other speakers include news anchor Katie Couric; former NBA Commissioner David Stern; Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeffery Immelt; and David Axelrod, President Barack Obama’s former chief strategist.

Wait – Katie Couric? Really? Sure, she works for a news site with an exclamation point in its name, but there are limits nonetheless, right?

Not to mention: Is Couric getting paid for this speaking gig?

Ya-who! knows.

P.S. According to Politico Playbook, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly is also on the speakers list.

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Dead Blogging ‘Alfred Maurer’ at Addison Gallery

Well the Missus and I trundled up to Andover yesterday to catch Alfred Maurer: At the Vanguard of Modernism at the Addison Gallery of American Art and, say, it was swell.

Maurer was an early 20th Century artist who morphed from an Impressionist to a Fauvist to a Cubist. From the Addison’s website:

Considered the most accomplished American artist to adopt Fauvism, Alfred Maurer (1868–1932) tirelessly explored the boundaries of artistic expression throughout his career. From his cross-fertilization of Fauvism between French and American circles to his channeling of abstraction in his late radical works, Maurer proved to be a formidable creative force in expanding the potential for artistic expression in American art.

Representative samples, early (Whistler inspired) work first:

 

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Then Maurer met Henri Matisse and jumped on board the Fauve Express.

 

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Several years later, Maurer squared up with Cubism.

 

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It’s like he was triplets.

For a more cogent analysis, check out Sebastian Smee’s slightly dyspeptic review in last Sunday’s Boston Globe.

And while you’re there, also check out the excellent exhibits Light/Dark, White/BlackOn the Scene: 20th Century Street Photography, and especially Searching for the Real, which showcases the Addison’s fabulous permanent collection.

All are there through July 31.

Seriously, it’s not that far.

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Civilians Who Run Full-Page Ads in the New York Times (Stephen M. Wolf Edition)

The latest in our long-running series

From Tuesday’s New York Times:

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Of local note:

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Yikes.

So who exactly is Stephen M. Wolf, who paid a likely six figures for this ad? Here’s what the Googletron yields.

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So . . . whatever. Let’s leave it at this about Mr. Wolf.

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Right.

Whatever.

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That’s Just So Sad! (Beau Biden Funeral Edition)

Vice President Joe Biden’s son, former Delaware attorney general and potential Delaware governor Beau Biden, was laid to rest today after succumbing to brain cancer at the tender age of 46.

Friday Boston Globe (and Wall Street Journal) photo.

 

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Biden has been clinging to his rosary as he buries a child for the second time (his first wife and 18-month-old daughter died in a car crash in 1972).

Others, however, have been clinging to the caricature of Biden as his own punchline – especially Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Great White South).

Totally shameful.

As opposed to Barack Obama’s totally heartfelt eulogy today.

 

 

Think what you will about Joe Biden’s politics or personality, but you have to feel for him in his time of loss.

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Erin Go Bride! Ireland’s Gay-Marriage Tourism Ads

From our Late to the Wedding Party desk

No flies on Ireland’s tourism officials. It took them all of three days after Irish voters approved a referendum legalizing gay marriage to launch a global ad campaign – “Ireland says I do” – targeting the LGBT community for weddings and honeymoons.

From MediaPost’s Marketing Daily:

“[The campaign] includes advertising on Facebook directing people to a specially created section on Tourism Ireland’s website, Ireland.com, which is highlighting great wedding venues and ‘dreamily romantic locations to tie the knot,’ as well as cool bars and clubs,” according to a news release.

“It also features a brand new video showcasing our spectacular scenery and The Outing, the world’s first-ever LGBT matchmaking festival, an offshoot of the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival which takes place in October.”

Here’s the spot:

 

 

The campaign is targeted at nine regions: Britain, the U.S, Canada, the Nordic region, Australia, France, Spain, Italy and Germany. The social media component features personalities like Miley Cyrus and Stephen Fry plugging Ireland.

(Just for scale: According to MediaPost, LGBT tourism was estimated to have been worth over $200 billion U.S. dollars in 2014, with European LGBT travelers spending an estimated $66 billion.)

And it’s not just Tourism Ireland that’s jumping on the wedding-bandwagon. According to Travel Weekly, “The 800-year-old luxury hotel Ashford Castle in County Mayo has introduced gay wedding and honeymoon packages starting in summer 2015. Pricing for a wedding at the castle, with a minimum of 75 bedrooms or 160 guests per night, starts at $63,050.”

Of course, not everyone loves Ireland’s LGBT lovefest, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

Pastor’s fury at taxpayer-funded tourism drive over gay marriage

A Free Presbyterian Minister has branded a new campaign to 2015-05-26_new_9857872_I1market the Irish Republic as the go-to destination for same-sex weddings as crass.

Rev David McIlveen said that there was no justification for the use of taxpayers’ money to find the Tourism Ireland initiative, launched days after a referendum was passed giving the green light to gay marriage in the Republic.

Rev McIlveen added this: “Many people will feel very aggrieved that money from Northern Ireland is being spent on this type of campaign and I believe there is no justification whatever for this investment.”

Right – only the south of Ireland voted to legalize gay marriage. So subtract one from that céad míle fáilte, eh?

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Travels With The Missus On the Côte d’Azur (Encore!)

After dinner I walked down to the bay one last time. I stood in a downloadedfile-11soft rain next to the bust of homeboy Jean Cocteau alongside the chapel he renovated in the 1950s, and looked one last time at the dark Mediterranean and the bright lights burned into the hillsides surrounding it.

The bust has a plaque underneath it, which reads:

Quand je regarde Villefranche je vois ma jeunesse, fassent les hommes q’ elle ne change jamais.

“When I see Villefranche, I see my youth again. Pray Heaven it may never change.”

Amen to that.

– Campaign Outsider, May 29, 2013

ONE THOUSAND FEET ABOVE THE MEDITERRANEAN, 2 years later – That night, I truly believed I had seen the nighttime vista from Villefranche-sur-Mer for the last time.Unknown

The Missus and I agreed: the trip celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary (a good start, yeah?) had been so perfect, we could never return to the French Riviera.

But about four months later, we looked at each other and said, “I wanna go back to Villefranche.”

And so we have.

Day One

To paraphrase the great Samuel Johnson, when a man is tired of Villa Kérylos, he is tiredUnknown of second-life architecture.

Built in the early 1900s, Villa Kérylos is “a unique reconstruction of an ancient Greek home. ‘Kerylos’ means Halcyon, often identified as a kingfisher, a poetic mythical bird, considered to be a bird of good omen.

“This is a tribute to Greek civilisation by two lovers of Ancient Greece, Théodore Reinach, imagesan archaeologist and patron of the arts and Emmanuel Pontremoli, an inspired architect.”

The house itself – “a faithful reconstruction of Greek noble houses built on the island of Delos in the 2nd century B.C.” – is austere, serene . . . reserved. It’s the polar opposite of, say, the villa designed by the whacko Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

Video tour of Villa Kérylos (en français):

 

 

Later, in the evening, the Missus and I sit on the terrace of our same (rental) apartment in  Villefranche-sur-Mer as last time.

 

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We watch a battalion of birds wheel in formation like some avian division of the Blue Angels while we listen to opera on WHRB (wait, what?).

God bless WiFi. God bless Villefranche.

Day Two

Having mastered the mysterious mechanics of the Billetterie SNCF, the Missus and I are on the train to Cagnes-sur-Mer. At the Nice-Ville station, Backpack Nation boards while we experience an interminable wait (this will become the theme of the day) and unintelligible announcements (even, I suspect, for the French passengers).

Eventually, though, we arrive at our destination and head to the Office de Tourisme to cotedazurcard_0purchase a Côte d’Azur Card (nouveau! merveilleuse!), which provides free entry to 160 venues. Luckily, they have exactly two left, something we take as a good sign. Then we mosey down to Square Bourdet to catch the 11:30 #400 bus to Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul-de-Vence.

(It’s now 12 o’clock and we’re still at Square Bourdet so we’re hoping the 12:15 #400 bus might actually be running but we’re not taking bets.)

At 12:30, the whatever #400 bus arrives. It is, of course, packed with two busloads of people, but we squeeze on and are soon deposited at the Fondation Maeght stop, whence we proceed to walk straight uphill for 15 minutes. Halfway to the top, we see a sign for Hotel Messugues but I’m thinking maybe we should check into the Hotel Meshugge.

Finally, leg-weary, we collapse onto the counter of the admissions booth, where we flash our nifty Côte d’Azur card and a very nice young woman says, yes, but if we want to take photos inside we need to pay an extra- . . . at which point we cut her off and say we have no cameras or iPhones and she says she’s never met an American without at least one and there are smelling salts all around.

* * * * * * *

Before we head into the Fondation itself, we swing by Le Café F for a nice lunch of salade Niçoise and saumon fumé.

But then comes the Service Compris Standoff: L’addition is 24 euros, so I produce 25. And wait . . . and wait . . . and ask for my one euro change, which continues not to be forthcoming. And I realize that M. Garçon thinks he can wait me out – that any American would just leave rather than linger for a single euro.

But he’s wrong.

Several minutes later and one euro richer, I wander off wondering whether service compris is more corrosive to national character than legalized gambling or capital punishment.

Somewhere in the middle, yeah?

* * * * * * *

The Missus says we’ve been to the Fondation Maeght on a previous trip, although I don’t remember it at all. Regardless, we both agree this time that it’s a bit of a mishmash, although that’s not how it describes itself:

The Marguerite and Aimé Maeght Foundation is one of the major international institutions dedicated to innovation and Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 11.53.52 AMcreation. This private foundation of modern and contemporary art Is located near the town of Saint-Paul de Vence, 25 km from Nice. The Maeght Foundation owns one of the largest collections of paintings, sculptures and graphic works of the twentieth century in Europe. It organizes major thematic exhibitions such as the 2013 summer exhibition dedicated to painting and philosophy as well as retrospectives (Giacometti in 2010, Chillida in 2011 Gasiorowski in 2012, Josep Lluís Sert [who designed the building] in 2014) and exhibitions of today’s creators (Erik Dietman in 2011 Fabrice Hyber in 2012, Gloria Friedmann and Djamel Tatah in 2013).

We didn’t care much for the special exhibition on Jörg Immendorff, but the joint has some knockout sculpture from the likes of Calder, Giacometti and, especially, Joan Miró.

 

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And etc.

Waiting for the 2:22 #400 bus back to Cagnes-sur-Mer, we see drivers continually stop on a curve in the road to take photos like this one of Saint-Paul-de-Vence high off in the distance.

 

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Idiots – they’re lucky they’re not taking photos of rear-end damage to their cars.

Meanwhile, the whenever #400 bus is . . .  wait for it . . .  exactly. In many ways the Lignes d’Azur bus schedules are some of the most riveting works of fiction you’ll find in all of France. But as the Missus says, channeling Hector Barbosa, “they’re more what you’d call guidelines, than actual rules.”

(To be fair graf goes here.)

To be fair, this is the second time we’ve come here and not rented a car – which we really love – except right this moment.

Enfin! (and only 45 minutes late, a vast improvement on the 75 minutes for the outbound bus) and miracle! – when we arrive back at Square Bourdet the #44 bus is waiting for us with open doors, soon to whisk us off to Château-Musée Grimaldi. a total mashup of the old, the odd, and the newish.

From the Nice Office de Tourisme:

Built in 1309 for Rainier Grimaldi and converted into an 191540_1d685c900f09dcb450777b4b53e2820a9833be1aItalian-style residence in around 1620, Château Grimaldi was bought by Cagnes Council in 1937 and became the municipal museum in 1946.

Situated at the heart of the medieval village of Haut-de-Cagnes, the château is home to the “Musée de l’olivier”, the Solidor donation (forty portraits of Suzy Solidor painted by famous artists such as Foujita, Lempicka, Laurencin, Picabia, etc.), an outstanding painted baroque ceiling and a number of contemporary art exhibitions.

The Solidor room is a hoot. Representative sample:

 

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Everything you didn’t know you wanted to know about cabaret singer/owner Suzy Solidor (along with most of the other portraits) can be found in this Modern Art Consulting post.

There’s also lots of ethnographic whatnot there, such as the Musée d’Olivier, which features “tous les objets liés à la production de l’olive et de l’huile dans notre région” such as:

 

montage_oliviers

 

There was also a special architecture exhibit that had no discernible organizing principle, but that was par for the course and just added to the fun.

Back to Square Bourdet and – voilà – the #400 bus to Nice was just pulling up and we took it as a sign from the transportation gods and got on. Always happy to tromp around Nissa la Bella.

* * * * * * *

Sitting outside a café just off Place Masséna, lingering over a café crème and Michael Eric Dyson’s epic takedown of Cornell West in The New Republic, and thoroughly enjoying both.

Dyson’s climactic conclusion:

If West was once [Mike] Tyson in his glory, he is Tyson, too, in his infamy. Once great, once dominant, once feared, he is now a faint echo of himself. Like Iron Mike, West is given to biting our ears with personal attacks rather than bending our minds with fresh and powerful scholarship. Like Tyson, he is given to making cameos—in West’s case, appearing as himself in scripted social unrest, or playing a prophet on television in the latest protest. He has squandered his intellectual gift in exchange for celebrity. He’s grown flabby with disinterest in the work needed to stay aloft: the readiness to read, think, and recast thought in the crucible of written words . . .

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West admitted [in an interview] that he went “ballistic” about Obama because he had been “thoroughly misled”; or, put differently, he was crushed that Obama had ideologically cheated on him.

West’s narcissism in this matter is not exemplified by his sense of being jilted but in the way he has personalized his grief. And the longer West has nursed his resentment, the more he has revealed parts of himself that even he may not understand or be able to explain, since political disappointment in a politician’s behavior rarely provokes such torrents of passion, such protracted, dastardly, and sadly, such self-destructive hate. The volatility that West said roils his personal relations may also mar his political ones. Now he lumbers into his future, punch-drunk from too many fights unwisely undertaken, facing a cruel reality: His greatest opponent isn’t Obama, [Al] Sharpton, [Melissa] Harris-Perry, or me. It is the ghost of a self that spits at him from his own mirror.

Ouch.

* * * * * * *

We often eat dinner at home here (the Missus makes a mean salade mixte-up ), and afterward we take a post-prandial promenade down to the port.

Villefranche-sur-Mer is a bit of a dining mecca in these parts, and the parking lot next door to Restaurant Row on the Mediterranean is always filled with fancy cars; last night we spied a red Ferrari, a matte-teal tricked out BMW sports car, and a black Bentley. Tonight I made the trip solo (see Fondation Maeght climb above) and actually saw who drives the Bentley: an older guy with too-long grey hair, a powder-blue sports coat, and a blonde half his age.

Then again , cliché is a French word, non?

Day Three

We’re on a quest to reach the Jean Cocteau-decorated Villa Santo Sospir in St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. We take the bus to the Nouveau port and then embark on 45 minutes of squirreling, largely uphill, to get to the house. Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is the second-richest community in the world (Monaco is first) and it shows: Every house is gated and named. Walking along Avenue Prince Ranier III de Monaco, I expect les gendarmes to be summoned at any time. But no. They probably think we’re someone’s housekeeping staff.

The villa itself is spectacular, with a great backstory:

In 1949, the poet Jean Cocteau during the filming of Enfants Terribles, directed by his famous novel by a young filmmaker of the time, Jean Pierre Melville, made ​​the acquaintance of Francine Weisweiller. Nicole Stéphane (real name Nicole Rothschild), the leading actress of the film, cousin Alec Weisweiller, presented the poet Francine; there was among them a stroke of lightning friendship.

In Spring 1950, after mounting Enfants Terribles, Francine invited Jean Cocteau and his adoptive son Edouard Dermit (interpreter of the role of Paul in the film), to spend a small Cocteau-S-Sospir-rect_holiday week at his home in St Jean Cap Ferrat overlooking the bay of Villefranche.

The villa Santo Sospir, built shortly after the war, was bought by Alec and Francine in 1946. Used as a holiday home, the walls of the villa remained empty. A few days after his arrival, Jean Cocteau say: “idleness tired … I myself dry. “. He asked if he could draw Francine charcoal head of Apollo above the living room fireplace. Little by little, he tattooed frescoed the walls of the house. Matisse had said: “When we decorate a wall the other is decorated, he was right.” Cocteau also said: “Picasso opened and closed all doors, left to paint on doors, that’s what I tried to do. But the doors open in the rooms, the rooms have walls and if the doors are painted the walls look empty … “

Cocteau wound up staying for 11 years.

Among the amazing frescoes (all the artwork was done freehand – no sketches) there’s Le Mythe du Soleil ou Tête d’Apollon.

 

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And Le Mythe de la Lune : pêcheur endormi et licorne.

 

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And here’s La salle à manger Judith et Holopherne:

 

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Cocteau even painted some of the furniture.

 

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As for the name of the villa, Santo Sospir (or “Saint Sigh”), it comes from Saint Jean’s previous name, so designated because when fisherman returned to port there, they would invariably sigh at the town’s beauty.

Day Four

We arrived at Festival de Cannes this morning and immediately left – to visit Musée Bonnard in Le Cannet, the “first museum in the world dedicated to the work of Pierre Bonnard, a leading figure of the art of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The museum is naturally at the heart of the city of Le Cannet, which inspired the artist by its landscapes and light of the South. It was during this time that he painted his finest works.”

None of which, unfortunately, are here. But it’s a pretty place, compact and sparkling new.     Here’s a sample of the nice work that is here.

 

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An altogether lovely visit to a place with an interesting, if modest, collection.

Neither of which applies to the crowds walking around Cannes, where everyone is on exhibit. It’s one big Keister Parade, an endless tide of tight white jeans, short skirts, shorter shorts. And everyone on the the lookout for celebrities, of which they’ve seen exactly none so far today because why in the world would, say, Sean Penn ever go some place we would?

At midday, it’s pretty much the unimportant in pursuit of the self-important. No one with any juice is out and about at this hour.

We wander up – and up – and up – and . . . finally arrive at Musée de la Castre.

 

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LOCATED ON THE HEIGHTS OF SUQUET, THE HISTORIC DISTRICT OF CANNES, IN THE REMAINS OF THE MEDIEVAL CASTLE OF THE LÉRINS MONKS HISTORICAL MONUMENT, THE MUSEUM OF CASTRE DOMINATES THE CROISETTE, THE BAY AND THE LERINS ISLANDS.

The museum presents the prestigious collections belonging to the city of Cannes: primitive arts Himalaya-Tibet, Oceania, Ancient America and Mediterranean antiquities world music instruments (Africa, Asia, Oceania and America) and also landscape paintings 19th century. Its square tower of the twelfth century (109 steps) offers an exceptional 360 ° panorama over Cannes and its region.

Here’s one-quarter of that panorama:

 

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As for the collection, it may well be “prestigious,” but there’s no question it’s odd. You can poke around it here if you like.

We decide to get back on the train and go poke around Nice, our default destination. And immediately there’s a mini-drama: Someone is locked in la toilette aboard the 4:10 to Menton, and despite the frantic attempts of three – count ’em, three – fellow passengers, there’s no opening the door. Since the trio is flopping all over the place in their Herculean efforts, we move closer to the front of the train and wind up in the Loud Car. Still better than the Panic Room.

At the Nice Museum of Contemporary Art we encounter an army of museum personnel and a huge crowd waiting for – this is true – Sylvester Stallone. We have no idea why he’d be showing up there; we just want to get into Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain to see artworks from the like of César, Yves Klein,  Niki de Saint Phalle, and Arman.

Whatever.

Turns out all those people turned out for a gallery opening that featured the artistic endeavors of the once-upon-a-time movie star.

From Le Huffington Post:

Sylvester Stallone et ses toiles accueillis au Musée d’art moderne de Nice par Christian Estrosi

US actor Sylvester Stallone (C) and Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi (R) pose in front of an artwork at a retrospective of Stallone's paintings entitled "Real Love" Paintings 1975-2015 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Nice, southeastern France, on May 16, 2015.  AFP PHOTO / FRANCK PENNANT = RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION =

US actor Sylvester Stallone (C) and Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi (R) pose in front of an artwork at a retrospective of Stallone’s paintings entitled “Real Love” Paintings 1975-2015 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Nice, southeastern France, on May 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK PENNANT
= RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION =

CULTURE – Le Musée d’art moderne de Nice accueille jusqu’à fin mai une rétrospective des oeuvres de Sylvester Stallone, plus connu pour ses rôles au cinéma que pour ses talents de peintre. A cette occasion, l’acteur américain est venu présenter sur la Côte d’Azur, ce samedi 16 mai, l’exposition qui lui y est consacrée.

“La peinture touche les sens, la vérité est immédiate”, a expliqué l’acteur-peintre au cours d’une conférence de presse aux côtés du député-maire UMP de la ville Christian Estrosi. “L’écriture peut aussi toucher tous les sens mais je pense que la peinture est la forme la plus authentique, la plus honnête de tous les arts, parce que c’est simple, ça ne pardonne pas”, a ajouté l’interprète de “Rocky” et “Rambo”.

Sylvester Stallone! The Mayor of Nice! A retrospective! Does it get any more French than that?

From the Real Love exhibit:

 

A woman looks a tag beside an artwork at a retrospective of US actor Sylvester Stallone's  paintings entitled "Real Love" Paintings 1975-2015 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Nice, southeastern France, on May 16, 2015.  AFP PHOTO / FRANCK PENNANT = RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION =

A woman looks a tag beside an artwork at a retrospective of US actor Sylvester Stallone’s paintings entitled “Real Love” Paintings 1975-2015 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Nice, southeastern France, on May 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK PENNANT
= RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION =

 

 

A man takes a photo next to an artwork at a retrospective of US actor Sylvester Stallone's  paintings entitled "Real Love" Paintings 1975-2015 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Nice, southeastern France, on May 16, 2015.  AFP PHOTO / FRANCK PENNANT = RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION =

A man takes a photo next to an artwork at a retrospective of US actor Sylvester Stallone’s paintings entitled “Real Love” Paintings 1975-2015 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Nice, southeastern France, on May 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK PENNANT
= RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION =

 

What a hoot.

Day Five

It’s Villefranche Day!

This fishing village has a storied history as home to, among others, Jean Cocteau, Charlotte Salomon (there’s an exhibit of her artwork at the Chapelle Saint-Elme in La Citadelle), Aldous Huxley, Tina Turner, Keith Richard and Anita Pallenberg (the Rolling Stones recorded their 1972 album Exile on Main Street at Villa Nellcôte here).

It’s also been a magnet for moviemakers – To Catch a Thief, An Affair to Remember, The Bourne Identity, and many others featured scenes from Villefranche.

We start our ramble where all good Villefranche sallies should start – at the fabled Cocteau Chapel, more formally known as Chapelle Saint-Pierre Des Pêcheurs.

From Catholic Eye Candy:

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Originally used to store nets for the fishermen of the French Riviera town of Villefranche-sur-Mer, the Chapel of St. Peter of the Fishermen was decorated by Jean Cocteau in 1957 to depict the life of St. Peter.

And what a depiction! Just a taste:

 

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I’m guessing, unlike at Santo Sospir, the old boy didn’t do this one freehand.

From there we just wander the town – La Plage to La Citadelle, soaking up the warm lazy Sunday afternoon like sponges.

And later we sit on the terrace and watch the birds wheel and bank and dive like some fly-by homage to Tippi Hedren and we listen to Frank and Billie on WBGO and see the horizon turn from light blue to pink to dark blue and hear the incessant coo of the doves down below and then the lights along the hillside begin to wink on – there there there there – and, man, it is swell.

Day Six

It’s the Menton Death March.

First stop in La Perle de la France after we get off the train: Musée Jean Cocteau Collection Séverin Wunderman, which is currently hosting the exhibition Les Univers de Jean Cocteau, the fourth since the museum’s opening.

With more than 2,000 works by the artist from its reserves, the museum has the chance to propose each year a new journey of discovery to visitors and to exploit the many facets of the genius of Jean Cocteau.

arton1302-af7c8As of November 22, 2014, and until 2 November 2015, the museum will be dedicated to the obsession of the place and backwards and figure twice in the work of the artist.

The proposed route is organized into seven sequences which each represent one of the world of “Prince of Poets”: Perception or the “inner theater” of Jean Cocteau Location / Envers and poetry, Intermediate or figures as the angel Heurtebise that we find in his work, Cupids, with death is a major theme of his artistic work, spirituality and echoing the magic, astrology and parapsychology, and finally Space-time or “degravitation” by which means the detachment Cocteau philosophies that take the man and the earth to the center of the universe. A seventh sequence, the museum’s Bastion nearby, gives studying monsters and myths of artistic work of the poet.

Not quite sure what all that means but the building’s a knockout.

 

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Cocteau himself was a sort of Jacques-of-all-trades – writer, artist, designer, filmmaker – all of which are represented here. (The entire collection will soon be available at Videomuseum – the mother lode of French art.)

From there we marched – wait for it! – straight uphill to Basilique Saint-Michel, which of course was closed, as was the adjacent chapel, which was either the Chapelle des Pénitents Noirs or the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs, no idea which.

Undaunted (we had visited the church a decade ago on a previous trip), we traipsed even further uphill to Cimitière du Vieux Château, which Guy de Maupassant called “the most artistic cemetery in Europe.”

We were looking for the grave of the artist Aubrey Beardsley, who like many consumptives of the time went to Menton to die. Unfortunately, we had failed to consult Find a Grave beforehand, so we wandered around for half an hour but never saw Beardsley’s headstone. But that’s no reason you shouldn’t.

 

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We then trundled back down to Menton centre to the Cocteau-decorated Salle des Mariages at the Hôtel de Ville.

This Mariage Hall was designed and decorated by Jean Cocteau, in 1957 and 1958. Everything you see in this room was signed by the artist: the lamps, the chairs, the panther-skin rugs, the doors, the curtains…

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All mariages of Menton residents take place in this hall since a wedding ceremony performed in the town Hall is the only one legally recognised in France. Should the Couple wish to be married in Church or at home, they may, but the only ceremony which counts for the state is the performed here. “Tired of pen and paper – wrote Cocteau -I undertook a mountain cure on the scaffolding so that through bodily tiredness I would restore my mind. My impulsive acceptance came from my embracing the motto: «à I’impossible je suis tenu» – in face of the impossible I go on.

“The Town Hall struck me as rather unsympathetic. I needed to play tricks with it, to try to adapt the style of the turn of the century on the Riviera, with its villas mostly now gone, painted with sheaths of iris, algae and heads of waving hair. Such was my point of departure, from whick I was carried far at the command of that “other self” wich dictates what we must do.”

When we got there, of course, it was closed. But here’s a nice tour, compliments of MentonTourisme.

 

 

At that point we headed to Monaco, which we figured would not be closed. First stop: the Palais Princier de Monaco, which some consider a yawn but which we liked, except for the insufferable British guy narrating the audio guide.

Take your own tour here.

We also popped into the cathedral where Grace Kelly is buried in a tomb inscribed Gratia Patricia Principis Ranierii III Uxor.

 

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More impressive is Musée Océanographique de Monaco, founded in 1910 by Prince Albert 1er, who “sank all of his casino profits into a passion for deep-sea exploration.”

For starters, it’s a beautiful building.

 

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Inside, there’s plenty to explore: the aquariums, the sharks (especially the video On Sharks and Humanity), and a bunch more videos here.

We also swung by Le Jardin Animalier de Monaco, which we do not recommend, mostly because they hid the hippopotamus somewhere, somehow. That’s just not right.

By then we’d had pretty much all the excitement we could handle, so we headed back to Villefranche. Later, around 10 pm, we heard a lot of booming so we went out on the terrace and – lo! – there was a big fireworks display somewhere in the general vicinity of Cap Ferrat.

Very sparkly.

Day Seven

Have I mentioned the weather? It’s been fabulous – warm, blue skies, only one really hot day (yesterday, of course). It’s uncanny (or un-Cannes-y): Two years ago we had the same kind of glorious stretch, and then, right after we left for home, it rained like the Dickens for five days, ruining the hairdo of every celebrity at the Film Festival.

Domage, non?

(I hope I haven’t just given myself a canary – kahn aynhoreh in technical terms.)

* * * * * * *

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We’re back in Nice, walking through Vieille Ville, strolling along the Promenade des Anglais, doing our best imitation of the classic French flâneur – something made slightly more difficult by the myriad selfie sticks surrounding us.

And then – slight canary – it starts sprinkling as we walk through the delightful Promenade du Paillon, a new park stretching from Place Masséna to Garibaldi Square. Best part: all the stuff for kids.

 

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Fun!

But not as much fun as Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, the elaborate creation of Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild, with its beautiful rugs from Versailles, furniture that Marie Antoinette once owned, wall panels from the Crillon in Paris (before it was a hotel), and etc.

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While we’re walking through the house and listening to the audio guide, everyone else is taking photos or shooting video of just about everything they (don’t) see. It’s life lived through a viewfinder, quite possibly at its nadir during the Musical Fountains that go off every 20 minutes. Four people are shooting the watershow on cellphones. At one point a couple stop shooting and start to dance. Cute. But it only lasts about a minute before they’re back on video patrol.

People are idiots.

Day Eight

Last full day of the trip, so time to head for Citadelle Saint-Elme, the 16th century fortress that looms over Villefranche and houses the Town Hall, the Volti Museum, Goetz-Boumeester Museums, and the Roux Collection.

And the Chapelle Saint-Elme, where there’s an exhibit dedicated to the artist (and Holocaust victim) Charlotte Salomon.

Charlotte Salomon was a prolific painter who produced over 1,300 gouaches. A luminous work, like a cry, as the only escape from the darkness of the world.

The author of “Delicacy” [David Foenkinos] has reconstructed the life of this artist in a very beautiful novel “Charlotte” , hailed by critics. In charlotte2honoring [her], he lifted the mystery about this work that the French will be able to discover in Villefranche after several international exhibitions in Europe and the United States.

The work of Charlotte Salomon is unique, conceived as an opera scenario: gouache each door on the back of musical references (classical, opera or popular) intended to highlight the action suggested by the drawing.

The U.S. exhibit mentioned above appeared at the Jewish Museum in New York in 2001.

During World War II, while living in exile in France, the young German-Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon (1917–1943) created Life? or Theatre?: A Play With Music, comprising almost eight hundred small gouache paintings. In this work, Salomon combined painting with text and musical cues to tell a compelling and autobiographical coming-of-age story set amid increasing Nazi oppression and a family history of suicide. Although the artist died in Auschwitz—a fact that deeply affects our view of the work—Life? or Theatre? survived and stands as a testament to Salomon’s life and singular artistic vision.

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Structured like a play, Life? or Theatre? is divided into a prelude, a main section, and an epilogue, which are further divided into scenes and sections. The prelude focuses on Charlotte’s youth in Weimar and Nazi Berlin; the main section on her artistic inspiration and lover, Amadeus Daberlohn; and the epilogue on her life in exile. The images, painted with only primary colors and white, range from expressionist portraiture to montages of time and space that combine multiple moments within the same page. Through-out Salomon’s work are echoes of modern artists such as George Grosz, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and Amedeo Modigliani—labeled “degenerate” by the Nazis—as well as direct references to Michelangelo and other old masters. This exhibition of nearly four hundred paintings from Life? or Theatre? marks the first time such a large number of Salomon’s works have been on display at one time, offering a rare opportunity to see the depth of her amazing but little-known masterpiece.

The exhibit in Villefranche is more modest but just as moving.

Unfortunately the Goetz-Boumeester Museum, with its “hundreds of works by contemporary artists” (including Picasso, Miró, Picabia, and Hartung) was closed, but we did catch the Roux Collection, which “features several hundred figurines which take visitors through the daily lives of men and women in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.”

Comme ça:

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And last but not least, Fondation Musée Volti.

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Museum of sculptor Volti combining local architecture and sculptures. Nestled at the bottom of the casemates of the Citadel, a people of bronze women, copper and terracotta, display their voluptuous curves in a green gemstones.

(Don’t you just love Google Translate?)

* * * * * * *

Two years ago, on the last night of our stay here, I walked down to the port, stood alongside the bust of Jean Cocteau, and took what I believed to be my last look at the Mediterranean Sea.

But I got a mulligan.

So tonight I went back down, stood in the same place, and took what will be my last look at the Mediterranean. And said goodbye to the blue-green water, the clinkaclanka tympani of the boat tackle, and the triple strand of lights that adorn the hills stretching from Villefranche to Beaulieu to Cap Ferrat.

Then I walked up the 100-odd steps to the apartment (no stops this time!) and got ready to go home.

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